This morning I sat quietly in the living room with my cup of coffee (my second, if you must know) I looked around at the damage done to my house by this latest round of startitis, and tried to figure out how to put it all back together. Startitis is an insidious disease, because it doesn’t just wreak havoc on your mind and time, but on your surroundings as well.  Out of nowhere came a storm last week, a wave that I saw coming.  The same way that a wave comes at you in the ocean, that’s how this one came, and just like in the ocean, trying to stand there in defiance of it failed miserably.  It was just bigger and stronger than I was, and it knocked me down, dragged me along the bottom of the sea, holding me under with the sound it makes – a scream that sounds like KNIT IT ALL.  I resisted, and that only made things worse.  It would have been over sooner if I’d given up and body surfed that thing into shore. If I’d have given up and just knit, it might not have gotten ugly.  I might have avoided the secondary infection I contracted that said YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH YARN MAKE SOME NOW.  I ended up with six new things cast on, and one lot of spinning on the wheel – but that’s not the mess of it.  The mess is the yarn pulled out of storage, examined, swatched and abandoned, along with whatever innocent bystanders I knocked to the floor in my haste. 

The stash room looks like someone sent a troupe of berserk monkeys with wool issues into it – and don’t get me started on what might, or might not have happened to the stash cupboard in my office when some lunatic decided to get out the carder, unpacked it and then abandoned the whole enterprise to root through the sock yarn bags like a boar after truffles.

There is a fleece in the kitchen that I dragged up here to start washing, sometime after midnight on Friday.  (Luckily, I succumbed to fatigue before I got started on that. I was able to see the folly of it after a good night’s sleep.)  I can’t even begin to tell you about the knitting books spilling over the living room floor, and on the dining room table… oh, and I’m stepping over a little mountain of them I piled by my desk. 

There are post-it’s with cryptic knitting plans written on them – one says "g5/1 co92, not stretch anti bobble."  I think that means that the gauge should be 5 stitches to the inch, you would cast on 92, and that I shouldn’t … Hell.  I don’t know.  I just hope that "not stretch anti bobble" doesn’t turn out to be a really important instruction that is totally obvious in two weeks.

Today is for sorting all this out, putting it all back where it should be, and trying to figure out how I might prioritize all of these new projects.  Out of the cowl, mittens, two pairs of socks, vest and baby blanket, what next?  Luckily, today is Tuesday, and with the new year came a renewed commitment to Tuesdays Are For Spinning, so instead of kicking a path through the wool to the wheel, I think I’ll tidy my way there. 

(PS On the wheel is BMFA Merino/Yak/Silk in Oaks Bottom. I’d link, but I think both the fibre and the colourway are out of rotation.)

(PPS.  I think I’ll work on the baby blanket after that, so don’t bother nagging.)


The rampant case of Startitis is beginning to abate, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that it is being refined.  One of the two cowls I started didn’t make the cut, a hat was recognized this morning to be a poor idea,  a few swatches are drying, waiting to see if their destiny will manifest.  (One will for sure.  The other has emotional problems I might not want to spend time working through.) My favourite sweater developed a nasty hole over Christmas (I repaired it) and now has another, making me wonder if it isn’t just past its prime, and that triggered an effort to replace it that is now going back into the yarn closet to get a grip on itself.  (I’m resistant to change so it took a few hours for me to remember I could wear another sweater instead of knitting another sweater.) The urge to cast on countless pairs of socks hasn’t quit though, and this morning I went looking for my favourite needles, and couldn’t find them for ages.  Eventually I realized that they were still in a pair of socks from the book tour, back in October.  I hadn’t thought to look for them there because in my head I had finished them.  All that remained was the cast off at the cuff of one sock, and so minutes later, surfacing in a sea of just started things, was a finished thing.

Pattern: Netherfield.  Yarn: Serendipitous Ewe fingering weight, in Silver Shadows.  They’re comfy, and cozy and have an interesting instep – and it’s always those little things that win me over. 

I knit the pattern mostly as written, with the exception of swapping out the toe, because as written, I felt that it resembled a nipple.  (Those of you who know me will know that I am actually quite pro-nipple, so I have no idea why that bothered me so much, but there you have it.)  I looked at a bunch of finished pairs, and nobody’s socks look like they have a nipple-toe once they’re on – so maybe I should have hung in there, but I didn’t. 

I’m wearing them now, and having a little celebration.  It’s a nice way to end Christmas.  I took down the tree, finished a pair of socks,  got back my favourite needles, and now I can take a deep breath and enjoy the feeling of a finished knitted thing –

Which is a pretty good idea, because if I keep feeling the way I’m feeling, it’s going to be a while before I experience it again.

Annually Apparently

It started to hit me a few days ago.  As the fervor that is Christmas started to die down, and we started to get a little quieter around here, nature filled that vacuum with a crazy feeling.  It began as an urge to poke around the stash a little, a vague sense that I had some really good stuff I might want to look at and cast on.  (I did.)  
The next day it presented itself as a compulsion to wind up about 10 balls of yarn and surf the internet looking at patterns for a while (and cast a few things on, again) – and last night, as I started thinking about heading to knit night, it finally blossomed, full blown, into a crazed case of Startitis, as I started putting three projects (for one evening) into my bag, and then – realizing that didn’t even start to scratch the itch – considered that I was taking a serious risk going to a yarn shop. I tucked another project in, just to look at, thinking that might help, and went.  I managed to (just) buy magazines – and wait until I got back home to cast on. (Again.)  This morning I started something else. (Again.)

I was going to write more about that, but it all started feeling pretty familiar, and then I remembered .  I think this might be a time of year thing.
January of 2011.

I’m at 10 projects and counting.  What is it about January?

Can You See Me Now

Just before Christmas, my trusty but very beat-up five year old macbookpro decided it wasn’t really a macbookpro anymore.  It wasn’t even really a macbookamateur, which is the direction that I would go if I were retiring as a macbook, but I guess the thing made its own choices.  It had been dying by degrees for a while.  First the CD drive didn’t work, and that was okay with me once I got used to it.  (I was more concerned that it had  Lucy Neatby DVD in it when it quit and wouldn’t give it back, but Joe got it out.) Then it forgot it had a camera, and that wasn’t a really big deal either, because I only used if for doing video chat/meetings, and really, I didn’t like that. I feel like people being able to see me while I’m on the phone is something my world just isn’t ready for yet. It would mean my hair has to look okay a lot more of the time, and that’s just pressure I’m not built for.

So like I said, the camera was broken and the CD drive was broken, but it was still mostly a good computer, except that it didn’t really close, because the week after the first Sock Summit, Tina had accidentally thrown it on the floor.  (I’ve never blamed her. She threw her own on the floor accidentally a few weeks later, probably out of guilt.)  In any case, the drive, camera and closing thingie were broken, and then something went wrong with the video card (I don’t know what that does, but it was a problem with seeing stuff) and we got that fixed, but then it broke again. About the same time as that, the computer started moving about as fast as glaciers do, and I decided to overlook that too.  Yay verily, I was a fountain of laptop quirk tolerance, until it started with the do-overs. 

I’d be writing along, working on something, and whammo. The computer – without any warning whatsoever, would restart.  I’d look up at the screen, for two seconds the spinning-rainbow-beachball-of-doom would appear, be almost immediately replaced by the blue-screen-of-death, then all would go quiet, and I’d hear the macbook "I’m starting up now" chime-of-cheerfulness, and there I’d be.  All my programs shut down, all my work gone (except if I’d been saving regularly, which towards the end was starting to be about 80% of my typing time) and there would be my desktop, sitting there looking exactly like it hadn’t just totally shafted me,  ready to allegedly do what I wanted (as long as it wasn’t anything it had already quit doing, and as long as I didn’t want it done with any degree of speed.)

It was when these global electronic seizures were happening about eight times a day that I decided I needed a new strategy.  Joe and I went over the budget, and decided that a computer would be a business write-off, and a well timed one.  We went outside and looked at the roof to make sure that there wasn’t a squirrel ripping a hole in it that was just about to cost the same as a macbook (that’s what happened to the computer budget last year)  and then I bought one.   All of this is a long way of saying that my new computer is very nice, although we’re still in the getting to know each other phase.  The new laptop munched up my photo library, and Joe worked some magic to get it back, and now I’ve had to learn eighty-seven new things to replace the things that I used to be able to do really simply.  It’s that first part of an upgrade that feels like a downgrade.  You know everything will be better if you can just hang in there, but right now, in the name of all wool everywhere can’t I just post a picture to the blog? Just one? Please?

It took me an hour, and some very unladylike language, and I believe Natalie may never recover from the fact that I wanted to fist-bump her when I figured it out, but I’m pretty sure that there’s a picture right there. 
If there isn’t, just pretend you see something. Just make it up. I can’t handle the truth.

(PS.  I don’t know what was so confusing about the yardage thing yesterday, but let’s clarify.  The pattern calls for 5 balls of Rowan Pure wool.  Added up, that’s 850m.  I am using a different yarn, and it has more metres per skein.  I have three balls of that, but together, they add up to 834m.  Everybody who thinks I’m trying to make three balls be five balls needs to chill out.  I am trying to make three be five, but my balls are bigger than those balls and so my fewer balls are really quite similar to the other balls, even though numerically speaking, three and five are quite different, in this case we are dealing in total wool mass, which is unrelated to individual unit size of said wool units.   Simple really.)

Mark My Words

So, here’s the thing.  Bolstered by my wild success with Megan’s sweater, the fact that Samantha wanted a vest seemed like a walk in the park.  I should have known that something was up when we entered intense negotiations about the type, size and colour of the vest, but really, all that got sorted.  We had a three hour Ravelry marathon a while ago where we looked at a million vests, and narrowed it down to about eight patterns. Sam had comments about each of those patterns like "Like that one, but longer, and with pockets, and Mum, add those argyle cables, but remember it should be baggy, because the eighties are back and don’t make a face like that – they’re back in a good way" and then, right then when I thought there was no possible way I could make the kid happy without contacting the costume designer for Duran Duran videos – whammo – she found it. It’s the Flourish vest. (It doesn’t have pockets, which is a point of possible flaw, but I’m still figuring that out. I’ve decided to move forward as thought an almost eighteen year old wouldn’t choose to lie to me when she said it didn’t matter.)   Next point of negotiation was colour.  (She knew she wanted wool, so we got to skip that, heavens be praised.)  The colour question got solved when Sam said she wanted the colour to be "Blue, or grey, or Jeans colour… or black" and the next thing I knew, Tina had sent me three skeins of Gaea in a colourway that was exactly that. 

Pattern and yarn established, I swatched, got gauge, and started in, only to admit that I am, and have been from the moment I started this a few days ago,  completely and totally dogged by the certainty that there is no way on earth that I have enough yarn.

This, by the way, is crazy. The pattern calls for five balls of Rowan Pure Wool Aran, which is  850 metres of yarn, and I have three skeins of Gaea, which is  834 meters,  and I understand that 834 is 16 less than 850, which could be why I’m worried about not having enough, but here’s the thing. When was the last time that you finished something, and it took all of the last ball?  It doesn’t. There’s always leftovers, maybe a few metres, but usually more.  I’ve had a couple of super close calls, but really, what are the odds that when the designer says that a pattern takes five balls of yarn, that she means that she used exactly all of five balls?  Plus – two of the sizes on the pattern take five balls, which means that there has to be some play in there, and every ounce of experience I have says that there is a better than excellent likelihood that this vest will use 16m less than it says it does.  I’m betting, based on years and years and years of knitting, that one of two things happened – that the designer had at least 16m of yarn leftover when she was finished knitting, or that the yarn amounts are padded on the pattern because it makes people crazy insane lunatics when they run out of yarn, so most of the time, the yarn amounts on a pattern are generous, and both these things mean that I am fine.  This is what my experience tells me.

That said, my intuition, my knitterly spider sense is tingling, and all it says is "You fool.  You don’t have enough yarn and you know it.  Stop now, before your error is public" but I have kept knitting, because I believe in the power of mathematics and experience over "feelings" and later – when this turns out exactly the way we all know it’s going to, and I get my arse kicked all the way up knitterdom and down the other side, you can all bloody well remind me that I shouldn’t be surprised, shocked or hurt, because I thought from the start that there wasn’t enough yarn, and there won’t be, and I know that… and I’m knitting anyway. 

(PS.  This vest has a buttonband and armhole edging worked at the end that could be in another dye lot of this yarn if  things do get ugly.  This is probably making me bold)

(PPS.  It turns out that when Sam said "Argyle cables" she meant diamond-ish shaped ones. It’s not a real knitting term, so don’t worry if you haven’t heard it, and for the love of all things woolly, don’t repeat it at the yarn shop.)